PitchSlam, the contest hosted by L.L. McKinney. It was an important moment for me and for INCONCEIVABLE. Last October, I had a stack of rejections from cold querying agents. The rejections were warranted. I’d queried too early. But with PitchSlam approaching, I made some major changes (read: improvement
s) to my manuscript. It was ready. I was ready.
I sent in my pitch and first 250 words. The feedback was incredibly helpful, and I worked away on my revisions, prepping for the final submission window. At the time, I was at a beach on vacation. I forgot about the gorgeous weather and the beckoning waves long enough to hammer out a pitch and first 250 words that made me proud. I submitted and waited.
Team Mutant Charm!
When the team leaders announced their picks, I was thrilled to be on Team Mutant Charm led by the talented and lovely Michelle Hauck. It was a huge break and a much-needed confidence boost. Then, the wait for agent picks began.
When Agents Like Your Pitch
It’s quite a head trip when you get a notification on Twitter that an agent you admire is following you. That happened twice the day the agents made their picks in last year’s PitchSlam. When all of it was said and done, I had requests for my full from three stellar agents. I also had two partial requests. It’s possible I turned a cartwheel in the front yard. It was that kind of day.
And Then You Wait
After the excitement and cartwheels, I had to wait. I wondered when the agents would read my fulls. Were they so excited about my pitch and first 250 words that they’d push my MS to the front of their stack? Well, no.
The first agent got back to me within a month and a half, a very reasonable time frame. She asked me to revise the beginning, but overall, her feedback was very positive. After two weeks of feverish re-writes involving critique partner feedback, help from a professional editor, and lots of coffee, I sent her my revised manuscript. I felt better about it. The story was much stronger. But, it wasn’t enough to convince this agent to represent me. In the kindest possible way and with the most encouraging words, she said the story still wasn’t right for her.
I kept waiting to hear from the other agents, and even sent them my revised manuscript based on the first agent’s feedback. I heard nothing. Then, I saw that the Pitchmas contest was happening in December. I read several success stories. This was enough to intrigue me. So, another writer and I said, “Why not?”
Even though it felt like a long shot–there were SO MANY entrants!–I’m glad I entered Pitchmas with my revised manuscript. My pitch and new 250 words received multiple requests. One came from the head of an indie publisher, Curiosity Quills Press. In the end, an acquisitions editor requested my full and then offered me a publishing deal. With an offer on the table from a very reputable publisher, I asked the agents who still had my manuscript if they would like to represent me. All declined, but I signed with CQ and have never looked back.
The Moral of This PitchSlam Story
If I had not connected with the agent who offered the excellent suggestions as part of the revise and resubmit request, I doubt INCONCEIVABLE! would be on the brink of being published. What that agent asked me to do was a complete game-changer for this manuscript. Even though it still wasn’t the right manuscript for her, it was the right fit for Curiosity Quills. I hope that no matter what happens for you during PitchSlam, you find a way to use this experience to put you one step closer to improving your manuscript and making it ready for publication.
And one final note. All the work I did on the PitchSlam pitch paid off. I used that as the start of my marketing materials for INCONCEIVABLE! Because now, I’m pitching my book to people who are, arguably, more important than agents: readers who will decide whether to invest their time and money in my book!
Cartwheel image via Flickr by Bitterjug